1) DJ Qbert - Extraterrestria + GalaXXXian (Galactic Butt Hair Records)
Although only released digitally in 2014 following a successful Kickstarter campaign (vinyl to arrive at Amoeba in 2015), this instrumental album (Extraresstria) and its rap/emcee counterpart album (GalaXXXian) rate as my top pick(s) for the best hip-hop released in 2014. Apparently I'm not alone in thinking so; Extraterrestia is up for a possible Grammy award. The stated goal of DJ Qbert's new album, which the artist considers as a Wave Twisters Part II, is to present the sound of skratch music in the future as he sees it, or - as he said upon the release of the new project - "the time capsule response and interstellar transmission to any galactic civilization, alien or far-future human." The "Jimi Hendrix of the turntables" ably accomplishes both solo as producer/DJ as well as with such album collaborators as Kool Keith, Del the Funky Homosapien, Mr Lif, Dana Leong, and Chad Hugo, who (along with Tipsy) co-produce the album's best track - the soothing, dreamy, ethereal "Ascender (Agartha)."
Just finished in production and finally published yesterday is the above anticipated second part/sequel to the excellent premiere in the The History of DJ and the continued story of the UK founded DMC as told by DMC founder Tony Prince - the former Radio Luxembourg DJ/founder of the British company that would become synonymous hip-hop DJ/turntablist battles - even if DMC initially (and still does) stand for Disco Mix Club. It was so named since initially it was all about the mixing end of the DJ but soon morphed into the scratch area of the DJ as is outlined in this second part of the documentary above when some participants in the contest took offense to the (then) new direction in the latter 80's that the battle was taken - upon its cue from the scratch-themed Superman battles at the annual New York City convention the New Music Seminar. Tony Prince formed the "Disco Mix Club" in 1986 as an offshoot of his Disco Mix Club Show radio program that he began in 1981. The above second part is a great history lesson that covers a lot of ground in the history of both the DMC and of the DJ. It returns to some memorable moments such as Philly DJ Cash Money traveling to the UK in 1988 to reign supreme in the competition, 1989 DMC World champ Cutmaster Swift doing a live routine on the high profile Terry Wogan television program, and Germany's DJ David winning the world title in 1991 when, in the final dramatic 15 seconds of his six-minute routine, he wowed the judges with the ultimate body trick of palm-spinning his entire body around on top of one of his turntables. However many (justly) argued at the time that the judgement was unfair and based on his purely eye-catching, visual body trick rather than on his turntablist skills and that runner up DJ Qbert should have in fact won. But such are the debates surrounding any competition that carries as much weight as the DMC does. Upcoming in this year's DMC battles are the 2014 DMC US Finals taking place in NYC at Webster Hall on August 23rd (look for a full review of that battle here on the Amoeblog shortly after that date), followed by the 2014 DMC World Championships in London at the Forum on October 5th. Below is the video of the winning routine by last year's champion - DJ Fly from France.
1) Various Artists Cell Block Compilation (Cell Block/Priority)
2) Rappin' 4-Tay Aint No Playa (Rag Top/Chrysalis)
3) Conscious Daughters Gamers (Priority)
4) 2Pac All Eyez On Me (Death Row)
5) IMP Ill Mannered Playas (In-A-Minute)
6) Mac Mall Get Right (Relativity)
7) Peanut Butter Wolf Step On Our Egos (South Paw)
8) Too $hort Gettin' It 12" (Jive)
9) N.O.A. forilla (120)
10) The Delinquents Smooth Getaway (Dank Or Die)
11) Suga T Paper Chasin' (Sick Wid It/Jive)
12) Twisted Mind Kids Twisted Mind State (8-song demo - No Exit)
13) Lateef The Wreckoning/Latyrx (Solesides)
14) MadFace Black Attracts Heat (Corn Field)
15) Lil Gangsta P meet the lil gangsta (Erin)
16) V/A The Dangerous Crew (Dangerous/Jive)
17) Richie Rich Half Thang (41510/Shot)
18) Milkman feat Da Goonz Reminisce (Major Music)
19) Hobo Junction E.P. (South Paw)
20) Sacred Hoop demo tape (Miasmatic)
The definition of "hip hop movies" is pretty darn wide as it covers a broad range of types and styles of films - not to mention differing levels of quality since, let's face it, some have been downright low-budget jenky (bad meaning bad). The hip hop movie genre as a whole encompasses such varieties as concerts films (EG 1995's The Show or 2005's Dave Chappelle's Block Party); documentaries about specific parts of the genre or individual artists (e.g. Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme or Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest); bio-pics like Notorious or the semi-biographical Eminem acting vehicle 8-Mile; and straight up pure celebratory flicks that show love for some or all of hip hop's four elements (EG Wild Style, Juice, Beat Street, and Breakin').
That sole physical LP copy, to be released in addition to the later unlimited digital download version of this brand new album that was recorded in secrecy, would be auctioned off for what they hoped would be a final bid of a million dollars or more. The 31-track, 120 minute album will be a double vinyl set and reportedly packaged in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by British-Moroccan artist Yahya. Most intriguing is the ambitious figure of a million dollars or more that the group said they hoped to get. That was last week and I thought it was outlandish and unrealistic amount of money that in no way would they ever get. But I was wrong - very wrong.
As reported by Billboard magazine yesterday the Wu got offered a lot more than one million dollars. "Offers came in at $2 million, somebody offered $5 million yesterday," the group's RZA told the music magazine. "So far, $5 million is the biggest number," he continued. "I don't know how to measure it, but it gives us an idea that what we're doing is being understood by some. And there are some good peers of mine also, who are very high-ranking in the film business and the music business, sending me a lot of good will. It's been real positive." Real positive is an understatement. That's absolutely incredible and a hell of a lot more money (provided this is not some hoax) than the Wu-Tang would ever make from selling an album via the traditional channels of releasing it via a major label like RCA who distributed Loud Records - their original label on which they released their hip-hop classic, 1993 landmark debut Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).